Winners with Coalition reps

Winners of the 4th grade Grocery Bag decorating contest at their Red Ribbon Week Skating Party at Pla Mor Lanes, Coldwater.  Front Row: Mylee Walters, Celina Elementary; Mia Byer, Avery Stachler, IC School; Coldwater Elementary; Jenna Homan, Ft. Recovery Elementary; Alea Pohlman, Marion Local Elementary; Megan Nichols, Parkway Elementary; and Keith Siefring, St. Henry Elementary. Back row: Mercer County Prevention Coalition representatives: Laura Sanford, Amy Miller and Lisa Vondrell. 

The red ribbon symbolizes a continuing commitment to reducing the demand for illicit drugs in our communities. In 1985, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena was killed by drug traffickers. Shortly after Camarena’s death, citizens from his hometown of Calexico, California, began wearing red ribbons to remember him and commemorate his sacrifice. Congress established Red Ribbon Week in 1988.

The Mercer County schools took part in Red Ribbon Week from October 23-27th. in some way or another. Activities ranged from a dress-up spirit weeks, facts on the announcements, assemblies, health fairs, wearing Red Ribbons, among other activities.

The Mercer County Prevention Coalition teamed up with all 7 local elementary schools to have a Grocery Bag decorating contest for the 4th graders. The theme this year was “Your Future is Key, so Stay Drug-Free.” 5 finalists from each school were chosen, and a winner from each school was recognized on Thursday, October 26th at a bowling party at Pla Mor Lanes in Coldwater.The 7 winners were Mylee Walters, Celina Elementary; Avery Stachler, IC School; Mia Byer, Coldwater Elementary; Jenna Homan, Ft. Recovery Elementary; Alea Pohlman, Marion Local Elementary; Megan Nichols, Parkway Elementary; and Keith Siefring, St. Henry Elementary. Each winner was presented with a $30 Chamber of Commerce gift certificate donated by the Mercer County Elks. Decorated grocery bags were returned back to the local grocery stores to hand out to their customers during and after Red Ribbon Week. Participating stores were Chief (Coldwater and Celina), Friendly’s Markets (Celina), Wayne IGA (Fort Recovery), Winner’s Meats (Osgood), Barry’s Supermarket (Rockford), Gels IGA (St. Henry).

The other finalists included, from Celina Elementary: Sophia Castillo, Jackson Newcomb, Jaden VanDyke, and Ava Young; from IC School: Parker Bertke

Haley Kizer, Bria Pearson, and Nathaniel Stolly; From Coldwater: Aidan Fiely, Grace Huwer, Becca Simper, and Sarah Stewart; From Ft. Recovery Elementary: Carson Fullenkamp, Dani Schmitt, Eli Albers, and Brylee Kremer; From Marion Local Elementary: Chloe Bergan, Kayla McClurg, Brody Otte, and Oliver Siefring; From Parkway Elementary: Graydon Bragg, Natalie Moeller, Emily Moorman, and Christina Tong; From St. Henry Elementary: Max Delzeith, Chloe Dilbone, Ava Homan, and Ava Watercutter

Special thanks goes out to the local school principals, guidance counselors, parents, and art teachers and others who helped the students design their bags, as well as the Mercer County Elks, Pla Mor Lanes, and the local grocery stores (listed above). Also a special appreciation goes to McDonald’s and Chakeres Celina Cinema for coupons for bowling and minute-to-win-it prizes and all others who helped make Red Ribbon week a success.

Red Ribbon Week gives us the opportunity to be vocal and visible in our efforts to achieve a drug-free community. Research shows that children are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs when parents and other role models are clear and consistent in their opposition to substance use and abuse. The Mercer County Prevention Coalition also endorses the “Let’s Talk” campaign and to “Listen like a friend, respond like a parent.” All parents should talk early and often about alcohol and other drugs, suicide, and their kids’ strengths and assets. For more info, visit

All Mercer County High School students who are interested in participating in youth-led prevention efforts are invited to the next Mercer County Youth to Youth Meeting on Monday, November 13th in the “Gathering Place” at Briarwood Village, Coldwater (enter by flagpole under the carport). Social time from 7-7:30 pm and meeting from 7:30-9 pm.

Citizens interested in becoming involved in the Mercer County Prevention Coalition can contact 419-584-1000 or The next meeting is on Monday, November 6th from 5:30-7 pm in the Central Services Building’s first floor conference room (enter Sugar Street entrance), Celina. Our mission: “To improve the quality of lives of Mercer County residents by preventing the harmful consequences of substance use and abuse and suicide among youth, families, and the larger community.”